A proxy is a legal authorization for one person to act on behalf of another. It is commonly used in homeowner association Annual Meetings to achieve the quorum required to hold a legal meeting. The normal routine is to mail proxy forms along with the meeting notice and ask that they be filled out and returned to the secretary or manager by a certain date whether an owner plans to attend the meeting or not. While the person designated by the proxy could be anyone of legal age, usually a relative, friend or board member is chosen.
Proxy returns can be notoriously poor due to disinterest or apathy. However, if a meeting quorum is not achieved, HOA business cannot be legally transacted. So getting proxies to ensure a quorum is extremely important. So what is the secret to getting them? Here are several ways to “0“moxify”1” (improve) proxy returns:
Self Addressed Stamped Envelope. Something as simple as a postpaid envelope gets results. Most folks have an inborn thriftiness that prompts them not to waste a stamp. Just make sure you mark the envelope "PROXY" so they don’7’t use it to pay their HOA fees instead
Offer Door Prizes. Many people respond to getting something for nothing. So the idea here is if a proxy is returned prior to a deadline, the owner qualifies for a chance at, say, a dinner for two. If the same person actually shows up to the meeting, they get two chances to win. For the top 5 runner-ups, give away $10 gift cards.
Feed Them. Lay out a catered buffet for those that attend the Annual Meeting. Make the menu irresistible. If funds are short, make it a potluck and assign the member directory alphabet by Salad, Entree and Dessert. Have the HOA provide non-alcoholic beverages.
Invite a Guest Speaker. Local politicians, law enforcement officers, authors, musicians and celebrities are often available to attend HOA meetings. Ask and you may just hook a fish of interest to the members.
Include “0“Special Assessment”1” in the Meeting Agenda. Most HOAs need money for expensive renovation projects. Unfortunately many boards wait too long to reserve what is needed. Raising the specter of a special assessment usually brings people to the annual meeting that ordinarily might not attend. Of course, there may not actually be an urgent need for a special assessment but it’7’s always good to discuss it as an option.
Email Reminders. The vast majority of members have email addresses. If you haven’7’t already, gather them for HOA communication purposes (notices, newsletters, etc.). It will save the HOA a bundle in office supply and mailing costs. After the Annual Meeting notice goes out, send a reminder email to all members each week that have not responded to the proxy request. Attach the proxy form to each email.
Eleventh Hour Phone Calls. In the week just prior to the Annual Meeting, make personal phone calls to those that have not responded. Offer to pick up the proxy in person if they live locally.
It may be a stretch to say that proxies have "moxie" but what really matters is getting folks to participate in the homeowner association that controls the value and destiny of their biggest asset, their homes. Keep trying until you get their attention. To quote a famous cigar smoking politician, "Never, never, never, never, NEVER give up".